Philadelphia reveals the city’s first statue honoring groundbreaking Black, female athlete

Ora Mae Washington was consider the greatest female athlete of all time, regardless of race.

A bronze statue of a young Black girl was revealed at the Smith Memorial Playground and Recreation Center in Philadelphia to honor a groundbreaking female athlete.

Philadelphia (Getty Images)

A bronze, 250 pound statue of a young Black girl was revealed to the public on Thursday at the Smith Memorial Playground and Recreation Center in South Philadelphia to honor groundbreaking female athlete Ora Mae Washington.

The statue is the first of its kind representing an African-American girl in the city and is being called the “MVP.” The figure embodies the girl wearing braids and a headband along with “vintage” basketball clothing, and a basketball in her hand preparing for her next move, Yahoo reports. 

The statue is located in an area where families in the historically low-income, predominantly Black community has resided for decades. Many residents say it’s “about time” for such a milestone to take place.

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“MVP is significant and historic as it is Philadelphia’s first freestanding statue depicting an individual African American girl,” Kelly Lee, the city’s Chief Cultural Officer of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, said in a statement.

“MVP represents the power and potential of young girls, exemplifying the pursuit of success through dedication and hard work.”

The statue was created in an effort to show more “diversity and inclusion” in major cities while honoring the community and inspiring the youth. It will join the other 1,500 publicly commissioned sculptures in the city.

Brian McCutcheon, who created MVP, said he wanted to make a statue to honor a “Philadelphia-based role model” who people in the community can look up to. After much consideration, he and city officials decided to honor Washington, a talented, local athlete. 

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“[Ora Washington] is an athlete from the 1900s [who] was arguably one of the greatest athletes of the era and was unrecognized because she was African American,” McCutcheon said. “We came to an agreement that dedicating the statue to Ora Washington would be well-deserved.”

Watch the unveiling below.